A few weeks ago, I had the misfortune of getting into my very first car accident. I was on my way home when a much younger girl crashed into the driver’s side of my car while trying to change lanes. It wouldn’t have been so annoying had the light been anything but red. But it was and she was completely stopped, therefore there was absolutely no reason why she couldn’t have spared a second or two to look over her shoulder. This accident was completely avoidable, as are most other accidents and violations. Following simple traffic etiquette would make driving a less scary, rage-inducing experience.
Here are some of the basics:
Use your blinkers. I hate waiting for a car to pass so I can make my turn, just to have them turn the corner I’m leaving. If you’d just used your blinker, I wouldn’t have had to wait forever to make my turn. Similarly, if you want to switch lanes, use your blinker—how on earth am I supposed to know you want to come into my lane if you don’t tell me? Is something wrong with your blinkers? Drivers’ Ed. taught you the proper hand signals to use if that’s the case.
Don’t tailgate. Nothing gets me more nervous than driving at the appropriate speed but still having someone inches away from my rear bumper. I can almost hear you yelling, “Go faster! Speed! BREAK THE LAW!” If you’re one of these people, you should know you’re giving me anxiety.
That being said, don’t drive 20 under the limit. If you’re in the fast lane on the freeway and you’re driving 45 mph, I hope you’re prepared for the road-ragers coming your way. Did you know that it is completely possible to be ticketed for driving too slow? Need to go slow for any reason? The law says you must stay to the right, slow poke.
Don’t be a weaver. What do I mean by weaver? You know those scary drivers who speed-up and bob ‘n’ weave in and out of traffic lanes because they’re in a hurry (or simply because they think they’re cool)? Yup. They’re usually also driving aggressive looking sports cars which makes it ten times scarier than it already is. There are so many problems with this. For one, they’re usually exceeding the speed limit by an outrageous amount. Secondly, they usually don’t use their blinkers and if they do, it’s only on for a second. If you’re a weaver, you are begging for a ticket, an accident, annoyed drivers or all of the above.
Don’t cut people off. Mom told us not to cut people off when they are speaking, and you should apply that to your driving as well. Wait until you have enough clearance to switch lanes or slightly speed up or slow down so that you do.
On the other hand, let people pass if they’re signaling. If I am signalling to switch lanes and you have the means to let me pass but refuse to, you are a grade A meanie, and I am probably giving you a dirty look even though we both know you’re trying your hardest to avoid making eye contact with me.
Honking is simply a reminder to the other driver you are present. Nothing is more annoying than sitting in traffic and straining to hear your music over the excessive honking. Honk to stop someone from backing into your car. Honk to remind someone you’re coming up behind them and they can’t switch lanes. Honk if you’re about to be hit. Do not honk if you’re sitting in idle traffic; that does absolutely nothing.
Stop. It’s a “stop” sign, not a “kinda sorta but not really stop” sign. It won’t kill you to just stop for three seconds, but it can save your life should someone else decide not to stop in the cross-traffic.
Know who has the right-of-way. Know the right-of-way for roundabouts (this applies especially to you Cal Poly Pomona commuters who take Kellogg Drive to get to school). Know the right-of-way for pedestrians and cyclists. Know the right-of-way for intersections. Just know your right-of-way!
And most importantly, KEEP YOUR EYES ON THE ROAD. You’ve heard it time and time and again, and for good reason. Don’t text and drive! Did you know that in 2011, 23 percent of all auto collisions involved cell phone usage? That’s 1.3 million crashes! Texting and driving will not only hurt you; it’ll hurt everyone around you on the road as well. Be smart about driving, Broncos!
Sure, these pointers are almost common sense, but you would be surprised with how many drivers neglect them. Follow traffic etiquette and you’re sure to make the road a less aggravating place to be!
Happy (& safe) driving, Broncos!